Review

Frida Kahlo at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Plaster corset, painted and decorated by Frida Kahlo, Museo Frida Kahlo. © Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums.

I so, so loved seeing Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up at the V&A when I was in London earlier this month.

Despite finding the haunting soundtrack they bled into every room a bit emotionally manipulative, I felt that the exhibition - full of personal belongings and artefacts exhumed after 50 years from a locked room in her house, La Casa Azul, in Mexico City - powerfully cut through so much of the myth about her, absolutely anchoring her life and work and extraordinarily wonderful, powerful sartorial choices in her body.

The plaster casts and steel braces; her prosthetic leg; her many medicines and the details of her painso much pain – brought a real clarity and urgency to her work. To create such visceral, clear-sighted, provocative works despite and because of her pain, I’m just in awe really of her intense female energy. To have her passion and anger and vision, when so many others would have foregone their politics and aesthetic agendas for painful solitude and defeat, I was profoundly moved actually. And I also really, really loved – thinking about her jewellery – how she used it to do and say so many things – about herself and about Mexico. Jewellery really can be this extraordinarily powerful, subtle tool for communication if you wear it right

There’s so much more to say about Kahlo, her work, the exhibition, the god awful, tasteless shit they were selling in the giftshop (I can’t imagine how the socialist Kahlo would have felt about £45 floral headbands being sold in her name…) but really, for me - it was about that visceral, tangible connection to her pain and her clarity of purpose.

 

OTHER POSTS